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OnePlus 8T review: It will make you reconsider buying an iPhone

I really believe the OnePlus 8T offers an experience closer to what iPhone customers are used to than any other Android device I’ve used to date.

Techaeris Rated 9.7/10

I’ve done dozens of smartphone reviews from budget Android devices to the very best iPhone and Samsung Galaxy on the market. As a matter of fact, my daily driver has been the iPhone 12 Pro Max since its release. While I love and use Android devices a lot, the iPhone has steadily remained my primary device. But the worm has turned, and the OnePlus 8T is an Android device that makes me reconsider the iPhone.

Before we continue with the OnePlus 8T review, understand this. My opinions and comparisons of this device are solely based on my needs and use case. Not everyone will agree, and that’s okay. Not everyone has the same needs or wants in a smartphone, and that’s okay too. This is not my first time using OnePlus; I owned the first OnePlus (OnePlus One) device and enjoyed that one too, though not nearly as much as this one.

I really believe the OnePlus 8T offers an experience closer to what iPhone customers are used to than any other Android device I’ve used to date. Because of this, I am awarding the OnePlus an Editor’s Choice and Top Pick award. The first device in our history to receive both awards at once.

I’m not impressed very often by smartphones these days. But the OnePlus 8T has shone brighter than the competition in my eyes and I’ve given it both an Editor’s Choice award and Top Pick 2021. Read on for the full review of the OnePlus 8T!

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OnePlus 8T
Lunar Silver back

Specifications

The OnePlus 8T has the following features and specifications:

  • Display:
    • Parameters:
      • Size: 6.55 inches (measured diagonally from corner to corner)
      • Resolution: 2400 x 1080 pixels 402 ppi
      • Aspect Ratio: 20:9
      • Type: 120 Hz Fluid AMOLED
      • Support sRGB, Display P3
      • Cover Glass: Corning® Gorilla® Glass
  • Features:
    • Reading Mode
    • Night Mode
    • Vibrant Color
  • Performance:
    • Operating System: OxygenOS based on Android™ 11
    • CPU: Qualcomm® Snapdragon™ 865
    • 5G Chipset: X55
    • GPU: Adreno 650
    • RAM: 8GB/12GB LPDDR4X
    • Storage: 128GB/256GB UFS 3.1 2-LANE
    • Battery: 4,500 mAh (2S1P 2,250 mAh, non-removable)
    • Warp Charge 65 (10V/6.5A)
  • Camera:
    • Main:
      • Sensor: Sony IMX586
      • Megapixels: 48
      • Pixel Size: 0.8µm/48 MP, 1.6µm/12 MP four in one
      • Lens Quantity: 6P
      • OIS: Yes
      • EIS: Yes
      • Aperture: f/1.7
    • Ultra Wide Angle:
      • Megapixels: 16
      • Aperture: f/2.2
      • Field of View: 123°
    • Macro:
      • Megapixels: 5
    • Monochrome:
      • Megapixels: 2
  • Dual-LED flash
  • Multi-Autofocus (PDAF+CAF)
    • Video:
      • 4K video at 30/60 fps
      • 1080p video at 30/60 fps
      • Super Slow Motion: 1080p video at 240 fps, 720p video at 480 fps
      • Time-Lapse: 1080p at 30 fps, 4K at 30 fps
      • Video Editor
      • Features: CINE Aspect Ratio Video Recording, Video Portrait, UltraShot HDR, Nightscape, Macro, Portrait, Pro Mode, Panorama, Smart Pet Capture, AI Scene Detection, RAW Image, Filter, Video Focus Tracking, Super Stable, Video Nightscape
  • Front Camera:
    • Sensor: Sony IMX471
    • Megapixels: 16
    • Pixel Size: 1.0 µm
    • EIS: Yes
    • Autofocus: Fixed Focus
    • Aperture: f/2.4
  • Video:
    • 1080p video at 30 fps
    • Time-Lapse
    • Features: Face Unlock, HDR, Screen Flash, Face Retouching
  • Audio:
    • Dual Stereo Speakers
    • Noise cancellation support
    • Dolby Atmos®
  • Sensors:
    • In-display Fingerprint Sensor
    • Accelerometer
    • Electronic Compass
    • Gyroscope
    • Ambient Light Sensor
    • Proximity Sensor
    • Sensor Core
    • Flicker-detect Sensor
    • Barometer
  • Dimensions:
    • Height: 160.7 mm
    • Width: 74.1 mm
    • Thickness: 8.4 mm
    • Weight: 188g
  • Colors:
    • Lunar Silver
    • Aquamarine Green
OnePlus 8T
What’s In The Box

What’s In The Box

  • OnePlus 8T
  • Warp Charge 65 Power Adapter
  • Warp Charge Type-C to Type-C Cable
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Welcome Letter
  • Safety Information and Warranty Card
  • LOGO Sticker
  • Screen Protector
  • SIM Tray Ejector

Design

Smartphone design has come a long way yet, in many ways, has stayed comfortably familiar. These days, almost every smartphone is made up of two slabs of glass held together with a metal frame. The OnePlus 8T is no different in this respect. The front and back are made of glass, with the back glass being a matte colored finish; ours came in Lunar Silver.

While modern smartphone construction is similar across manufacturers, the materials used aren’t always the same. Some manufacturers use more affordable materials to keep costs down. The OnePlus 8T uses materials that feel and look premium. So while this phone isn’t priced the same as flagship competitors, it feels on par with them. Holding this phone in hand feels almost the same as holding my iPhone 12 Pro Max.

You’ll find the volume rocker and two antenna strips at the top and bottom along the left side of the phone. Along the top of the phone, you have one microphone and two more antenna strips. Along the phone’s bottom are the SD card tray, USB-C port, and one of the speakers.

Along the right side of the phone, you’ll find the power button along with a toggle switch that moves the phone from ringer, vibrate, and silent. This switch is one of the major reasons the OnePlus 8T ranks this high in my book. As an iPhone user, having this simple switch makes a world of difference. I use the same switch consistently on my iPhone, and I love having it here.

The front of the OnePlus 8T houses a beautiful glass display with a hole punch for the front camera. No notch here, which isn’t a huge deal because notches don’t bother me. The display is edge-to-edge with a slight bezel, which I like. I like this because I have meaty hands, and on phones with bezel-less displays, my hands tend to touch things I don’t want to touch.

The back of the OnePlus 8T has the company’s logo and name. The logo design and name are presented nicely and do not look gaudy. The camera array is also on the back, and yes, it is a camera bump. I’m not a huge fan of the chrome accent around the camera array, and I wish OnePlus would have made it matte.

Overall, the OnePlus 8T design is among the most beautiful in the smartphone world right now. While its price tag isn’t as high as an iPhone or Galaxy, it competes right up there with them in this category.

OnePlus 8T
Front display in bright sunlight

Display

Displays these days are getting better and better; even on mid-range phones, you can see it. The OnePlus 8T had to bring a better display to the party than a mid-range phone, and it does that with its 120 Hz FHD+ Fluid AMOLED panel. 120Hz refresh rates on displays isn’t the norm yet, so having it on a smartphone priced at US$749 is great.

I will have to admit; I’m not one that’s going to say that you absolutely need to have a 120Hz refresh rate screen. It’s beneficial for gamers, that’s without question, but it’s a luxury for normal users. Gamers of all kinds will love the speed and appreciate it. That being said, it is a nice luxury to have for non-gamers too, and it is noticeable when scrolling and moving about the interface at a fast pace. The super-low response latency really does enhance the experience. So the inclusion of a panel like this is really a big plus.

The OnePlus 8T AMOLED panel includes HDR 10+ with a really great color accuracy that makes colors pop. This is typical of AMOLED displays, and the way OnePlus tunes this panel gives life to movies and other visual media.

Blacks are deep, and whites are clean. Text is crisp and clear, and with 1,100 nits, you don’t have to worry about the brightness outdoors. I run all my smartphones at 100% brightness, and the OnePlus 8T has one of the better panels outdoors that I’ve used. There are a few that are better outdoors, but the 8T is right up there.

For what it’s worth, the OnePlus 8T also has an A+ rating from DisplayMate, HDR 10+, and SGS. Overall, the OnePlus 8T display is one of the best in the market and holds its own against even the expensive flagships.

Software

The OnePlus 8T ships with OxygenOS based on Android 11. As with most other Android OEMs, OnePlus has its own interface, OxygenOS. Unlike other Android OEMs, OnePlus has made its interface the best of any Android OEM. I’ll probably catch hell for this, but I actually prefer OxygenOS over Google’s Android 11 on the Google Pixel. I can hear the fanboys melting down right about now.

Personally, I have not been a fan of the Pixel line of phones. Since the Nexus program was killed off, I don’t think Google does a great job making phones. If given a choice over a Pixel and the OnePlus 8T, I’d pick the 8T.

Why? Well, OnePlus has put a lot of work into this user experience, and it shows. The thought put into the design is evident; everything just looks seamless, clean, and intuitive. From the menus, settings, and fonts, it’s all just elegant and well put together.

One of the best features of this software is using third-party icon packs from the Play Store. I can’t think of any Android phone that allows you to use third-party icon packs from the Play Store. That is without installing a third-party launcher or using a custom ROM. Frankly, it’s a shame that Google does not allow this with its Pixel. I’ve always enjoyed customizing my home screen, and icons have always been central to customization. So it’s great to have that ability without having to weigh the phone down with a launcher.

I can’t say enough good things about OxygenOS and the software user experience here. Android 11 is enhanced in many ways by OnePlus’s design and software choices here. Overall, the OxygenOS experience is outstanding, and everything Android should be. All the talk of pure Android is nonsense to my ears. OnePlus is a step above it.

OnePlus 8T
Packing the Snapdragon 865, Adreno 650 and 12GB of RAM

Performance

Our OnePlus 8T came packing the maximum RAM at 12GB. You can also get an 8GB version, but if you’re planning on doing any heavy gaming, you should opt for the 12GB version.

The Snapdragon 865 and Adreno 650 pair well with each other and do a phenomenal job of running everything you throw at them with ease. This pairing is in many other Android flagship phones and is a solid combo for performance needs. The 865 has been optimized for today’s heavy users who take photos, video, and love to game.

The 865 is also 5G ready, although I have no 5G in my area and could not test it. If you do happen to have 5G, you can download an HD movie in just 6-seconds with that connection.

A dedicated, multi-layered gaming-grade cooling system keeps the internals cool when you’re watching movies and gaming. That’s not to say the phone never gets warm; if you’re putting it under heavy load, it will get a bit warm, but you can tell the cooling system really helps. I don’t do a lot of heavy gaming, but I can say that some of the racing games I do enjoy had no problem on this device. Here’s a bit more info from OnePlus’s website for you serious gamers:

Designed for power gamers, supercharge your mobile gaming with the brand-new Gaming Tools featuring Mis-touch Prevention and improved notification control. Get your game on with Fnatic Mode, Screen Recorder, Floating Window (for social media), and more for immersive gaming.

OnePlus

The OnePlus 8T also has some interesting vibration mechanics. I have found the vibrate and haptic features on most phones to be annoying. I’m not sure how or what OnePlus is doing, but their haptic and vibration feedback is less annoying and not obtrusive. For lack of a better descriptor, it’s gentle yet firm.

The in-screen fingerprint sensor is also one of the OnePlus 8T shining attributes. It works fast and precise. In my testing time, I maybe had two instances where the fingerprint sensor took a second or didn’t work right away. I will say that, like all other in-screen sensors, it doesn’t like wet or very cold fingertips. This is the case with other brands as well.

As we mentioned before, the 120Hz display is a dream when it comes to scrolling and pinch to zoom. There is absolutely no stutter or lag that I can see when doing any of it. Everything is very fluid and moves well on the display.

Overall, the OnePlus 8T is a solid performer and does everything from mundane email to intense gaming with ease.

OnePlus 8T smartphone
USB-C port and speaker

Speakers/Sound

The OnePlus 8T does have dual stereo speakers. One speaker is located at the bottom of the phone, and the other is at the top where the earpiece is. The 8T has full Dolby Atmos support, and the company says it produces 3D soundscapes.

The speakers on the 8T work very well. They produce great sound with solid definition and clarity. The highs and mids are well rounded, but the bass is lacking just a bit. This is comparing to the iPhone 12 Pro Max, so the 8T speakers are miles better than most other phones.

I found the iPhone speakers to have more body, more meat, and depth. It’s what I wished the 8T speakers would also deliver. Unfortunately, they did not give me the same power and depth as I wanted.

That’s not to say these are bad speakers; they aren’t, not at all. These are really great, and I think most users are going to be thrilled with them. I just found myself wanting that little bit extra that I felt wasn’t being provided here.

Overall, the OnePlus 8T sound is better than average but falls slightly short of being outstanding.

Camera

Cameras. It turns out our smartphones are morphing into cameras that are nearly as powerful and nearly as good as a decent DSLR. Of course, smartphone cameras have a long stretch of road to cross to achieve the power of a DSLR and really great lens. Given that they have a much smaller sensor puts them at a disadvantage. The software and AI algorithms make up for some of the pains, but that can only go so far.

That all being said, the cameras on the OnePlus 8T are really great. They’re still not flagship quality but they are better than what mid-range phones offer. The OnePlus 8T offers five cameras. One on the front and four on the back. The four on the back consist of the following:

  • 16MP Ultra-Wide Angle Camera: Aperture f2.2, Field of View 123°
  • 48MP Main Camera: IMX586 Sensor, OIS/EIS, Aperture f1.75
  • Macro Lens: 5MP
  • Monochrome Lens: 2MP
OnePlus 8T
Overcast and rainy day

Like most smartphones these days, the OnePlus 8T offers up different modes for capturing the shot you want to capture. The two below are most likely the two most people will use consistently. And with the 48MP main camera, these modes really make your photos shine.

  • Nightscape Mode: This allows you to capture dramatic low-light shots. This mode uses software to capture the scene you’re in intelligently. The software is supposed to enhance clarity, reduce noise, and produce accurate color reproduction. Nightscape mode works fairly well on the 8T, and almost every other phone has the feature as well. I honestly think this mode is a hit or miss and not just with the 8T. It’s great when it works and okay when it doesn’t. This is no fault of the phone; it really does hinge on where you are, how much actual light you have, and what you’re shooting.
  • Portrait Mode: This allows you to capture images of people with a creamy blurred out background. This mode has been around for some time on smartphones, and each smartphone does it a little differently. This mode is also not always perfect, but in this case, I found the OnePlus 8T portrait photos to be pleasing to the eye. Again, using this mode is really going to hinge on the light you’re in, where you’re shooting, and who you’re shooting.

The 16MP wide-angle camera is great for capturing photos and videos with a 123° field of view. This allows more into your photos, but you also have fewer megapixels, so keep that in mind.

The front 16MP camera does a good job of taking selfies that are colorful, clear, and great for your social media posts. The front camera also has Electronic Image Stabilization (EIS). This helps when your hands are shaky, keeping your image from being blurry.

The rear main camera also houses EIS but takes advantage of OIS as well. Optical Image Stabilization (OIS) helps to further keep your images from being blurry. OIS is better than EIS as the stabilization is done on the lens where EIS does it through software. Having them both gives you double protection.

OnePlus 8T
An example of when the OnePlus didn’t get it right. Portrait mode

The photos coming from the OnePlus 8T are excellent. If I am honest, though, they’re not as good as some other flagships out there. At the same time, they’re colorful, clear, and crisp. I felt some depth was missing as I would get on other much more expensive devices. That’s not to say these photos are bad; they’re not. I think normies will be happy with the quality of these cameras.

Overall, given that the OnePlus 8T is only US$749, I think the cameras are outstanding and certainly miles better than any mid-range phone. They may not meet flagship standards but the cameras are still excellent and most users are going to be thrilled with the images they can make.

OnePlus 8T
Camera Module has a silver trim I’m not fond of

Reception/Call Quality

Not much to say here; the OnePlus 8T reception and call quality was bang on. Most phones in this price range, and frankly any phone these days, should have these two attributes down to a science.

Battery Life

The OnePlus 8T houses a giant 4,500mAh battery that will get you through your day and then some. Of course, this depends on what you’re doing and how much you use your phone. For normal use, social media, email, browsing, YouTube, and mundane tasks. You should be able to get through the day with plenty left in the tank.

I usually ended my day with 60% left on the battery while performing my mundane tasks. The OnePlus 8T also comes with Warp Charge 65, which is wicked fast charging. The included 65W charging brick reminds me of a MacBook charging brick and not only charges the OnePlus 8T but can also charge compatible tablets, phones, and laptops too. Plugging in the 8T for 15 or 30 minutes will give you more than a boost. OnePlus’s charging method is one of the best, if not the best, charging on the smartphone market.

Gaming, streaming video, and capturing video will impact the 8T more harshly than normal use. You won’t get crazy amazing battery life when you’re intensifying the tasks, but it’s better battery life than most phones, plus you have Warp Charge 65 to compensate.

Overall, the OnePlus 8T is one of the best phones I’ve used in terms of battery life. Users will love to go through a whole day without charging.

Price/Value

There are a lot of phones out there you can buy right now. Not to mention there are many phones you can buy that are really really good for not a lot of money. But the OnePlus 8T steps up the price to value game and offers up a plethora of features at an insanely attainable price.

For US$749, you’re getting a bunch of stuff that usually comes on phones priced at US$899 and up. The OnePlus 8T is a real value. Not to mention the user experience is second to none.

OnePlus 8T
Ultra-Wide early evening

Wrap Up

I haven’t been this excited for an Android phone in a very long time. I purchased the very first OnePlus phone years ago and thought it was good, nothing special, just good. Coming back to check them out again after all these years really surprised me, in a good way.

While I still think the other Android options on the market are viable and really great for their user base. The OnePlus 8T really ticked all the requirements for me personally. It has amazing battery life, excellent cameras, a silent switch, the ability to use custom icon packs, and the user interface is elegant and well thought out.

Like anything else, the OnePlus 8T isn’t for everyone. But iPhone users take note. Suppose you’re considering upgrading to a new iPhone but have also wondered about Android. The OnePlus 8T is the perfect phone for you to dip your feet into. Most of this phone will feel familiar to you, and I think you’ll really enjoy it.

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OnePlus 8T

US$749

Design

10.0/10

Display

9.5/10

Software

10.0/10

Performance

9.5/10

Speakers/Sound

9.0/10

Camera

9.0/10

Reception/Call Quality

10.0/10

Battery Life

10.0/10

Price/Value

10.0/10

Nailed it

  • Slim, clean, and modern design
  • Great premium feel and build
  • Amazing 120 Hz Fluid AMOLED display
  • Oxygen OS is the best looking version of Android
  • 12GB of RAM and the Snapdragon 865 give great performance
  • Cameras are great, not the best in the industry but great
  • Excellent battery life
  • Great price to value ratio
  • OnePlus seems to be one of the few OEMs that regularly updates its devices
  • Fingerprint sensor is one of the best

Needs work

  • Pre-installed screen protector is sticky and not worth keeping on
  • Dual speakers sound just okay, better than most for sure but not as good as some flagships
  • Cameras are great but some users may look to more expensive flagships for slightly better cameras
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